Not All Charity Clothing Boxes The Same

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COLUMBIA - Charities and organizations place clothing collection boxes at multiple locations in mid-Missouri. Many may notice the clothing boxes in parking lots of stores, but may not know the differences between the boxes.

The American Red Cross and USAgain are two types of clothing boxes in Columbia. There are seven Red Cross clothing boxes and 13 USAgain clothing boxes in Columbia. 

Red Cross is a charity, so it calls its boxes clothing donation drop boxes. Donations there are tax deductible because of the Red Cross' charity status. USAgain is a for-profit organization. Donations to its bins are not tax deductible, so it calls its boxes "clothing deposit" boxes.

"The Red Cross has a very important mission: meeting needs of disaster victims that nobody else is meeting," American Red Cross Community Market Manager Clayton Kennedy said. "When people donate to these Red Cross drop boxes, they are directly benefiting these families that have experienced a crisis and are in need of a helping hand."

"Over 11 million tons of textiles end up in our landfills every year which is about 85 percent of all of the textiles that are discarded in the United States," USAgain St. Louis Division Manager Tom Jacquin said. "Only 15 percent then are re-purposed or reused as second hand clothes and that's our main mission, is to increase that 15 percent and to keep the clothes out of landfills."

People can place clothing, shoes, and basic kitchen items in Red Cross bins. People can place clothing, shoes, and household textiles in USAgain bins.

Once people drop clothes in Red Cross donation boxes, a company from St. Louis called Charity Clothing Pickup takes over. The company picks up the clothing in the boxes once a week and takes the donations back to St. Louis to sort, and then ship to thrift stores in Missouri and Texas. Then, Charity Clothing Pickup sends a check for the proceeds from the donations to Red Cross every month.

Charity Clothing Pickup Manager Liz Egler said she believes the partnership with Red Cross does more than provide money.

"It's a win-win situation. They get the actual money to use where they feel it's needed," Egler said. "Our operation employs many people in the community. You have the people who make the boxes, take care of the boxes, the drivers, the office. So the whole community is actually benefiting from this program since its local."

USAgain has its own employees that collect the deposits. The employees take the clothing back to St. Louis to sort the clothes and divert what they can into recycling or send to thrift stores in the US and different countries.

Red Cross and USAgain use the money from items they receive differently.

"Over 91 cents of every dollar that the Red Cross receives goes straight to our humanitarian efforts, so the money that we receive is very directly benefiting the victims of disaster," Kennedy said.

USAgain uses its money to pay employees, pay the places that host the boxes, and for donations.

"We profit share with them, the profits that they receive with us, often times they will donate to their favorite charity, most of them do that," Jacquin said. "Those who don't profit share in that manner, we will take the proceeds from that bin and we will give it to an organization called Trees for the Future. We do some work with Children's Miracle Network."

Kennedy and Jacquin said they are thankful to give clothes to others who need clothing and convert clothing into something that is healthy for the environment.